CLEVELAND (AP) — Justin Verlander showed signs of his old form. However, the Detroit Tigers still needed someone to bail them out Saturday night.
Two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera was the right man for the job.
Cabrera doubled with one out in the 10th inning to drive in the go-ahead run and lift the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Verlander was one out away from winning for only the second time in seven starts, but closer Joe Nathan (4-2) blew a save for the fifth time this season when Michael Bourn’s two-out single tied the score.
“Nobody said this game was easy,” Verlander said.
Ian Kinsler opened the 10th with a single off Cody Allen (3-2). Following a sacrifice, Cabrera hit Allen’s second pitch off the wall in left-center, scoring Kinsler.
Indians manager Terry Francona was faced with a tough decision — pitch to Cabrera or walk him intentionally and go after Victor Martinez, who homered in the second and had an RBI single in the sixth.
“Sometimes you have to choose which one you are going to pitch to,” Francona said. “You’d rather not face both of them, but sometimes you’ve got to. Sometimes you’ve just got to get them out.”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was happy he didn’t have to make that choice.
“I knew they couldn’t walk both of them so I felt good taking my shot,” he said.
Phil Coke pitched the 10th for his first save.
Verlander allowed two runs in seven innings, and Rajai Davis and Kinsler homered in the sixth, giving Detroit a 4-2 lead.
The Indians scored in the eighth, but Nathan labored in the ninth, throwing 32 pitches in the ninth. He struck out the first two hitters, but singles by David Murphy and Yan Gomes put runners at first and third. Bourn slapped a single through the left side to tie it.
Verlander rebounded from a stretch where he had lost five of six decisions, including three straight starts.
The former AL MVP and Cy Young winner held the Indians to four hits and struck out eight. Verlander, who was 2-5 with a 7.83 ERA in his last seven starts going into the game, gave up a solo homer to Carlos Santana in the fourth and allowed an unearned run in the second.
“This last month has been pretty frustrating, but I saw some swings that were different out there,” Verlander said.
Francona wasn’t fooled by Verlander’s recent numbers.
“I know he looks human, which I guess we all are, but you see his name and you don’t run to the ballpark thinking you’re going to get healthy,” Francona said. “His stuff is still really good.”
Davis broke a 2-all tie with a one-out blast into the home-run porch in left field. Kinsler, whose fielding error in the second cost Verlander a run, followed with a homer into the bleachers in left-center.
Both came off Trevor Bauer, who allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings.
The Tigers are 12-20 since May 18, but have won three straight for the first time in a month. Detroit leads Kansas City by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central.
Verlander had allowed 38 earned runs in 43 2-3 innings in his previous seven starts. He lost all three starts in June, when he was rocked for 19 earned runs in 18 2-3 innings.
“He was definitely good, but ironing out mechanics does not happen overnight,” Ausmus said. “I wanted him to leave on a good note and feel good about his start.”
The Indians recorded their second sellout of the season, thanks mostly to Omar Vizquel being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. Vizquel, who played for the Indians from 1994-04, is Detroit’s first base and infield coach.
The Tigers’ winning streak is their longest since they won six straight May 12-18.
Brantley, who returned after being sidelined with a concussion Monday, was 0 for 5 to end his nine-game hitting streak.
J.D. Martinez singled in the second, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, in which he’s batting .429.
NOTES: Tigers LHP Ian Krol, who has a 15.75 ERA over his last five appearances, was on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder. He allowed two home runs un the eighth inning Friday and admitted he is “kind of going through a dead-arm period.” LHP Pat McCoy, pitching at Triple-A Toledo, was recalled. … Indians C Yan Gomes threw out Davis at second base in the fifth, the sixth straight time he has caught a runner trying to steal. Gomes hasn’t made an error in 35 games after committing nine in his first 29. … Detroit OF Torii Hunter (strained right hamstring) missed his fifth straight game. … Tigers RHP Max Scherzer (8-3) meets RHP Josh Tomlin (4-4) in the three-game series finale Sunday.
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